Wetherspoons Warns Lemons And Limes ‘May Not Be Vegan’

Pub chain Wetherspoons has issued a warning over its lemon and lime garnishes


(updated )

3 Minutes Read

Wetherspoons pub Lemon and lime garnishes currently not suitable for vegans, Wetherspoons warns - Media Credit: Izel Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Vegan Wetherspoons customers have been left baffled by being told they should order drinks without fruit garnishes.

Read more: What’s Vegan At Wetherspoons? The Surprisingly Extensive Plant-Based Menu

One punter spotted a sign at a Wetherspoons in Bristol warning that they could not “guarantee, unfortunately, that the fruit garnishes are vegan.” The customer posted a picture of the sign on Reddit, saying that the barman told them “it was sent out from head office with zero context.”

So what does it mean, and why have Wetherspoons only just put the signs up?

New supplier

Plant Based News contacted Wetherspoons for comment on the signs. Spokesman Eddie Gershon explained that the pub chain normally sources its lemons and limes from a “vegan friendly supplier.”

“However, for a limited period of time, we are using a different supplier for our limes across our pubs,” he said. “We cannot, with the new supplier, guarantee that the limes are vegan friendly and as a result have put up the notice in our pubs.”

It isn’t clear why Wetherspoons has switched supplier or when it will return to its usual one.

How can fruit be non-vegan?

Photo shows whole and halved lemons mixed together with leaves
Adobe Stock Shellac and beeswax are often used to coat citrus fruit

Tesco caused a similar stir in 2022 by labeling some of its citrus fruits as unsuitable for vegans. The reason for these warnings from Tesco and Wetherspoons is that beeswax and shellac are sometimes used to coat the fruit skin. This helps to keep it fresh for longer.

Read more: Is Toothpaste Vegan? The Animal Ingredients You Might Be Putting In Your Mouth

Beeswax is not considered vegan because harvesting it takes a toll on the hive and worker bees. Shellac, meanwhile, is secreted by female lac beetles. When harvested, shellac is scraped from the branches – along with any attached lac beetles – before going through a process of crushing, liquefying, and sieving. An estimated 100,000 lac bugs are used to produce a single pound of shellac flakes.

Do vegans need to avoid citrus fruit?

It might be a bit annoying to miss out of a slice of lime in your G&T at Wetherspoons, but you might not want to give up on citrus fruits altogether. It’s possible to find vegan-friendly, unwaxed fruits at supermarkets, though often these are the organic ones which can costs twice as much.

Read more: Eating More Fruit And Veg ‘Equivalent To Walking 4,000 Extra Steps A Day’

It’s worth bearing in mind the definition of veganism from the Vegan Society. It says that being vegan is about avoiding animal exploitations and products “as far as is possible and practicable.” Organic fruit is unaffordable for many people, but fruit is an important part of a healthy diet. However, a number of affordable fruits are unwaxed, meaning you should be able to find accessible vegan fruit with a bit of research.

As the confused reaction to Wetherspoons’ sign shows, many don’t even know that citrus fruit might have beeswax or shellac coatings. If you’ve eaten a waxed orange or lemon lately, you shouldn’t panic over it.

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